Letters to Cyclingnews January 24, 2002
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What the heck is wrong with Italian 'cross?
Can anyone explain why Pontoni is constantly under the gun despite being by far and away the best 'cross racer in Italy? Do the Italian Cycling Gov.'s have a reason? They kept him out of most of the points and now want to exclude him from the worlds.
I have been a fan since Pontoni came here and showed us how far we have to go by destroying the best that North America had to offer. I watched up close and the guy was killing everyone here and by the looks, did it with an effort that was far below our guys. I can't understand why he is constantly being punched in the face by his country.
I just read that Canada's best women's cyclo-cross rider, Lyne Bessette has not been chosen for the world's. [See January 23 news] The reason being that Canada would rather penalize Canadian riders that ride a program the helps them become the best. The tradition of Canadian cycling official blackmailing rider to ride provincial and national championship has been experienced by many riders in Canada a will continue into the future. Selection in Canada is almost always been a reward and luckily sometime the best get the reward but it would seem not this time. Long live tradition and power to the blazer brigade.
Dear Jean Marie Leblanc:
PLEASE, OH PLEASE allow Saeco to start in the Tour de France this year! It will be great fun watching Simoni come up with excuses after he is crushed by Lance. If only a big mouth helped you to ride faster, Simoni would be the undisputed King of Cycling (I'd probably be better as well!) [ See January 23 news]
The man is at it again! From today's Cyclingnews.com news: "If he (Lance) thinks I'm his most dangerous rival for the Tour de France, it means that I'm right and that I can cause him problems in the mountains just as I did last year at the Tour of Switzerland". So Lance pays Simoni a compliment, and Gilberto uses it as a springboard to launch another silly round of boasting.
Let's take a look at the "problems" that Simoni caused Lance in the Tour de Suisse mountains last year:
Uphill finish Stage 4: Simoni finishes a whopping three seconds ahead of the "contenders group" containing Armstrong. Simoni almost won the stage, but was dropped by Vinokourov on the final climb and lost nine seconds. Hmmmmm maybe Vinokourov can cause Lance problems in the mountains? After all, he was better than Simoni on Stage four of the Tour Suisse.
Tough Mountain Stage 5: Simoni finishes 37 seconds ahead of Lance who comes in 7th place on the day. Again, Simoni was second as Konyshev was the strongest of the day, winning the stage by 1:57 over Simoni. Wow! Maybe Konyshev can beat Lance at the Tour! Let's take a look at who else finished ahead of Lance that day: Wladimir Belli and Manuel Beltran with Simoni @ 37 seconds ahead of Lance, Juan Garate @ 12 seconds ahead of Lance, and Beat Zberg with Lance at the finish.
Mountain ITT Stage 8: Umm, Simoni started the climb 10 seconds down on Lance and lost 1:15 in 15K of climbing, but that doesn't count cuz
OK Gibi, here's some advice: stop underestimating your (hopefully) opponent. Did you ever stop and think that Lance wasn't on his best from yet when you hammered him for an incredible FORTY SECONDS over two mountain top finishes? If Lance was on his best, wouldn't you expect to see some success at the Tour by your Tour de Suisse pals who finished ahead of Lance on stage 5? Let's see where the other "problem causers" have ever finished at the Tour de France: Belli 24th @57 mins in 2001. Manuel Beltran 10th @21mins in 2000. That's about it. Oh yeah, and you LOST the Tour de Suisse to Lance, remember?
Now I'm sure that Simoni was tired after his win in the Giro (where his top three challengers either crashed out or were thrown out), but the amusing thing is how he grabs his little football of evidence "I gained time on Lance in a mountain stage!" and heads off down the field, heedless of all the other facts which don't support his boastful propositions.
One more thing: Simoni won the Giro ahead of (anyone remember who?) Abraham Olano @ seven minutes. Olano has never finished within ELEVEN minutes of the Tour de France final GC winner in five attempts (and that 11 minutes down performance was back in 1996!)
So let's all cross our fingers in hopes that J.M. Leblanc allows Saeco to ride the Tour so we can enjoy the histrionics from the roadside and/or our TV sets.
I read about Scott's injury in the TDU. That has to be hard, especially for someone who has worked so hard and made a great comeback. I hope that he heals quickly, that his condition returns and that he can peak for some good races.
Get well Scott.
I just finished reading the news piece of Sunday, January 20, which contained 'Spinal Tap Comes to Cycling with Team Earth Fare'. That is by far the funniest thing I have read in more than a fortnight. I can't remember the last time I laughed hard enough to cry. Thank you for a good one.
Does Garth of Santa Fe really believe someone who "has never heard of the Giro or Vuelta" can be called a cycling enthusiast? How is this possible? [Read Garth's letter]
Better than Lance #2
It appears that many people have misunderstood the intentions of my recent letter. Let me begin by stating that I am a Lance fan and was on the edge of my seat during his phenomenal ride up Alpe d'Huez. That being said, I am also an Ullrich fan, a Botero fan, a Beloki fan, a Laiseka fan, just as I was a fan of Indurain in the early 90's and a fan of LeMond, Fignon and Hinault in the 80's.
In response to Ted Ritter's letter, thanks for pointing out that I am a US cyclist who does not understand racing. I am fully aware of the role that Armstrong played in that race for Hincapie. I was merely trying to put forward some statistics for all the Simoni-bashers out there who treat 2nd place in a week-long Tour as a point of shame.
I also fully agree with Jim Hubbman who states that Armstrong is a great ambassador for the sport who has broadened its appeal, much in the same way as LeMond did as the first American to win the Tour. It is also true that Armstrong has achieved "spectacular results in an event most of us couldn't hope even to enter", but I don't think that precludes us from engaging in discussions of the historical context and significance of his performances, whether or not we can climb in the Pyrenees as well as Lance.
Armstrong is an amazing athlete (as I stated before) but the fact that we here in America only see one or two bike races on TV means we view cycling differently than those cycling fans in Europe, where there are hundreds of bike races and thousands of racers.
If Armstrong were to quit today, I think history would view him as a racer on par with LeMond or Fignon, but certainly not in the same league as Merckx, Hinault or Indurain. Merckx won 11 Grand Tours and had four years where he won two 3-week Tours: in '70 he won the Giro and the Tour, '72 the Giro and Tour, '73 the Giro and Vuelta, '74 the Giro and Tour. Hinault won 10 Grand Tours and had three years where he won two 3-week Tours: in '78 the Tour and Vuelta, in '82 the Giro and the Tour and in '85 the Giro and the Tour. Indurain won seven Grand Tours and had two years where he won two 3-week Tours: in '92 and '93 he won the Giro and the Tour.
Perhaps if Armstrong wins five Tours he will be viewed in the same league as these riders.
As for the world championships, there are riders who won the World's in the same year as the Tour: LeMond in '89, Roche in '87 and Merckx in '74 and '71. LeMond almost always rode the World's, finishing numerous times in the top 5. Perhaps the season is harder now and riders have to focus more on specific races, but I think there are many riders who would still ride the World's even after winning a Grand Tour.
In response to Scott Goldstein, cycling journalists aside, there are such things as "pure climbers" and "time triallists". Scott states that "a rider who is great at producing power on the bicycle, will be able to go uphill incredibly well as well". I guess that explains why Zabel and Cipollini have won all those Tours.
He also says that a "pure climber," if it has a practical definition, is "a little dude who time trials badly." Wrong. There are many great climbers who are bad time triallists (Roberto Heras, Roberto Laiseka, Jose Maria Jiminez), and many excellent time triallists who are bad climbers (ever heard of David Millar?). A good example of the difference is Santiago Botero, who won the Mountains jersey in 2000, then concentrated on his time trialling in 2001 (Vuelta, World's) and couldn't keep up with the leaders in the mountains.
Armstrong is not the best climber in the world or even the Tour; for the last two years he has been a better climber than Ullrich, which is all he has had to be. (I think there are many riders who may be better climbers than Armstrong look at how Jiminez destroyed the field in four mountain finishes in the Vuelta.)
There is a competition for the rider who is "consistently strong on each and every climb"; it's called the King of the Mountains, and Armstrong has never won it. Neither has Ullrich. Virenque is a better climber than both, but his poor time trial abilities will prevent him from ever winning the Tour. Indurain was not the best in the mountains either; Chiapucci was the best climber in the early 90's, as his two KOM jerseys in the Tour and three in the Giro proved.
The winner of the Tour doesn't have to be the best climber, just good enough to go with the breaks and not allow his rivals to gain too many minutes. Armstrong is a master of this and a brilliant tactician-he puts in a phenomenal ride when it matters most, but I think Virenque, Pantani, Simoni and Jiminez are equally good in the mountains.
I hope LeBlanc invites Mercatone-Uno and Saeco to the Tour so we can see who gets to the top of Ventoux first Armstrong, Simoni, Pantani, Virenque or Ullrich.
It has been killing me but I finally found it!
I remembered reading an article that placed the top ten riders of the Belgian Classics during the 1990's. These races were; Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Fleche Wallone, Gent-Wevelgem, Amstel Gold, Tour de Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Het Volk, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The point system was three points a win, 2nd place two points, and 3rd one point. (Only the podium counts!) And the results were:
1 Johan Museeuw 2 Andre Tchmil 3 Peter van Petegem 4 Michele Bartoli 5 Franco Ballerini 6 Tommy Steels 6 Frank Vandenbroucke 8 Laurent Jalabert 9 Rolf Sorensen 10 and here it is Lance Armstrong
So for everyone that says Lance has not participated or shown well, think of all the other spring classics riders, that are not on this list, and have never won the Tour de France. These races are the core of the real spring classics. And lets remember he did not race for the better part of two years, because of a little thing called cancer. Let us also call fact to the reality that he is riding on an US-sponsored team, for which the spring classics mean nothing. The Tour is everything to the Americans. The general public have no concept to the enormous amount of racing these athletes have to do. If he had been riding for Rabobank, he would have likely had two Amstel Gold wins. He is a great cyclist. He is not your favorite GREAT! I would hate to live in a world where everyone had the same opinion (I like the debates). But don't say he is not a great cyclist, or just a half talent because he "only" rides and wins the Tour de France. We all like cyclists for different reasons. Fine. You think someone is better? Good for you! Let's meet at the pub, down a pint, eat some peanuts, and debate who is BETTER. But don't say he is not a good rider. The facts, and not opinions, say otherwise, and in twenty years your opinion will have been forgotten, but the facts will remain.
So anyway, lets save the energy for finding ways to inform and involving our neighbors in our sport, instead of criticizing the only figure they can associate with. The more people in the sport, the more voices, complaining to politicians their tax dollars don't help cyclists, and we may have to vote for someone who will help!! Now there is a plan!
Michel van Musschenbroek
One of the major accomplishments of your reader poll was that it showed how biased Americans are towards their own cyclists. It is ridiculous that 4th place in the Best Performance category should go to George Hincapie for only coming 4th in Paris-Roubaix, while the winner of the Vuelta does not even appear on the list! The results of the poll are distorted because a lot of people (mostly Americans) simply voted for their favourite cyclist and ignored the more superior performances of many European cyclists.
Reader poll #2
Felt is was time for me to chip in my two cents on the poll. Yes, it is true that the poll was somewhat biased to the US riders. Please keep in mind, though, that the US is much more wired than the rest of the world, population-wise, at this time. And, this is an English language site. Without knowing the demographics of this site, I would expect that the greatest share of readers are US based. Any poll is by nature a popularity contest, therefore this poll was very accurate in reflecting the opinions of those who took the time to contribute their opinions. End of story.
Reader poll #3
If I didn't read Cyclesport mag (along with the other $8.00 cycle mags) or this website the only people in the pro peloton I would read anything about here in UhMERica is Armstrong. We have to search around a bit to be knowledgeable cyclists. Heck! Most of the racers around here don't even know who Friere is let alone that Liege-Bastogne-Liege is a spring classic. Casual cyclists can only vote for who they know.
And I didn't vote for Armstrong!
Martin I guess the Yanks just didn't understand your biting sarcastic wit, your facetious rhetorical question [Read Martin's letter]
Anthony, Pike, Pike, Pike.
Well, God bless your simple little heart, trying to teach us Americans about irony. That sure is big of you. Where would the world be without the Australian sense of irony.
You should branch out. I can just see it: a band of Australian Ironic Missionaries. The uniform would be those shorts that are too small, and neckerchiefs. They'd tour the U.S. knocking on doors and teaching us barefoot Americans about facetiousness and backhanded e-mails.
While your Missionaries are at it, they should help out our heathen neighbors to the north. Alannis Morissette needs a little help with the definition herself.
On a totally different subject, oh man, I can't think of anything cycling related. Oh yeah, go Vandenbroucke! And starting today, I'm the biggest Ludovic Capelle fan, too. I have to see a little fatal flaw in my heroes. Lance is okay, but I don't suspect we're going to see a pizza stain on his tank top anytime soon.
Sitting on a turbo trainer does not make Mr Rodman a cyclist. This makes him someone sitting on a turbo trainer.
[Read original letter] I can certainly empathize. I suffered a similar injury in 1997, at the age of 58, when a dog ran out from between two parked cars right in front of me, and I couldn't avoid a crash. The result was a broken neck of the femur, i.e. broken hip. The resulting surgery left me with two rather large pins through that bone held in place by a plate bolted to the top of the femur. I still have all that hardware in my leg and the orthopaedic surgeon who operated on me said that it would be just fine to leave it all there, unless it bothered me. I'm surprised that your surgeon hasn't given you any details about your recovery period.
I was on crutches for five solid weeks. I actually got back on a wind trainer during the fourth week, but it was painful because of a tendon that was very stiff. That eventually worked itself out after some excellent sessions with a physical therapist. I returned to active biking right after my five weeks were up, but it took several months before I felt really back to normal. Since that time, I have not had any problems with the hip at all. I feel it sometimes when I walk, but I have never had any problems with it while biking.
As it was explained to me by the surgeon, the one potential danger from such an injury is that the circulation to the head of the femur that fits in the hip socket can be compromised if the two bone fragments are not accurately re-aligned during the surgery. The result is that the bone tissue beyond the break will eventually die and the head of the femur will begin to disintegrate. The only remedy for such an occurrence in a total hip replacement. My physical therapist also pointed out the importance of a good program of post operative therapy. There is considerable blood loss during surgery and some of it collects in the hip socket. It is very important to begin moving that joint early on so as to evacuate the accumulation of blood before it coagulates, thereby causing other problems.
My best to you, Mark, during your period of inactivity and recovery. It seems like a long time while you are actually laid up, but the prognosis for such an injury is usually quite positive.
Broken hips #2
This has become a common injury for really fast people. American cross star Bart Bowen, Cofidis star Philippe Gaumont, and of course me. I am not sure the type of break my other co-stars had but I had a type two sub trocanteric fracture. They inserted a rod, a hip screw and two stabilizing screws. I was on crutches for almost 10 weeks, I was back on my bike in three, very much against doctors orders.
The post crutches period: I will tell you this, it will hurt like hell to pedal on the injured leg. You better work your arse off strengthening it, because you will start over-compensating with the uninjured leg and will get knee problems. My leg would get stiff, and I had to keep moving it from time to time. Changes in temp affected me the worst, if it was cold in the morning and warmed up during the day it was so painful. On a hot day playing in the cold Pacific Ocean water with my daughter caused a lot of pain also.
I had the rod taken out several months ago (after about 18 months) and everything has improved 100%. I don't limp any more, I don't ride any more (thus eliminating the chance for re-injury). But in all seriousness, get the thing out as soon as your doctor will let you. Do a lot of physical therapy (physiotherapy if you are in Europe) and keep doing it after you are off crutches. Good luck and keep me posted.
Broken hips #3
My wife fractured her hip while mountain biking. It's a tough injury to come back from. Your situation is worse than hers, since you've had a complete break. The doctor suggested she rest for about a month, and then start with non-weight bearing exercises after about six weeks (swimming, upper body exercises, etc.).
Even after two months, she still had pain in her hip while trying to jog or ride. We put one of those fat gel covers on her bike seat to help with some of the pain. The injury happened in about August. She still has twinges of pain today.
For more advice, I would suggest talking to your doctor or a professional trainer. They could suggest some exercises you could perform to help keep some of your fitness. All the best to you.
Broken hips #4
This is in response to a letter from Mark about broken hips. A friend of mine last year broke his pelvis (not the same, but similar). He was a Cat. five racer at that point in time. He rehabbed, came back, and is now a Cat. two (over the course of one season). So it is possible to rehab, come back, and race and ride well from such an injury.
Broken hips #5
A good friend of mine (45) broke his hip five months ago. He was off the bike for four months and has been doing easy flat road rides for about a month (20-25 miles) and he is still recovering. He too had screws placed in his hip. He walks fine but says he get stiff sometimes when getting up out of a chair.
Broken hips #6
It might make a difference if the break was with displacement or not. July 23 2000, near the very top of Izoard, I broke my hip (trochanter area, no displacement at all, I was actually able to struggle back on the bike and go down Izoard to Briancon on my own before being taken to the hospital), so it was as benign as a broken hip can be.
July 24: operation with the same type of screw as for you, not the most modern technique.
July 25: back on my feet with two canes, not armpit crutches which are horrible. Canes allow you to walk almost as fast as other people.
July 27: at home, on stationary bike.
July 31: outdoors on mountain bike, lowering the seat by five centimetres for stability.
Between August 10 and 20 I slowly graduated from two canes to just one (depending on how I had to go) a foldable cane easy to store in a bag. Soon after I stopped using that one cane. I started using my normal racing bike on August 26, but with flat pedals and jogging shoes.
That day I climbed a nearby mountain pass in 56 minutes, instead of about 40-42.
September 11, I noted that muscles did not hurt any more when climbing out of the saddle.
September 28, I went up that same climb as August 26 in 44 minutes.
October 21 I entered a local event, a friendly non competitive climb, in which I would say I was at about 98% of my "normal" climbing speed, about one minute slower on a 50 minute climb.
November 13, 2001 I had the screw removed. Between Aug 2000 and Nov 2001 I cycled about 15,000km, being a bit more cautious than necessary on downhills.
Although I was aware of the presence of the screw and plate, I had no pain. Thigh muscles did not come back to previous volume until spring 2001, but I did nothing special about it, just trained on the bike.
I don't think it makes a big difference, but I was then 59 years old.
I hope this will be an encouragement.
I just want to know how anyone even noticed the uniforms?
It took all these letters for me to scroll back and have a see. First time through it was more like:
"No naked Click No Naked Click, AHHHH Naked Cipo Rules.
Well to vote against Noel's point of view, I think the new kit is totally awesome, and different. But good for cycling, they said you would be able to distinguish it from the rest of the peloton, and that is accomplished I think the Italian designer did a great job, and Specialized did equally as well matching the bike to the jersey I look forward to seeing Cipo and his mates race to victory this season in those colors.
I had thought maybe it was too early to speak up, but since Tom Atherholt from New Jersey asked for some response last week, I'll go ahead and nominate Mapei's winter kit as the worst of the year. Sorry Cipollini. As much as I have greatly admired Mapei during these last many years, I had to laugh when I saw pictures of their training camp early this week. I am reminded of something our nitwit President said, rather prophetically, during his election campaign: "There oughta be a limit to freedom."
Oh come on, everyone knows the Polti had the ugliest uniform ever!
I've read every letter in this section since inception and am often bemused by the diverse opinions of the opinionated and have not felt the urge to leave the comfort zone of the 'silent majority'. However Steve's heartfelt note struck a deep chord in a minor key no doubt. I was moved to tears reading about and seeing the TV footage of the offending car with smashed windscreen where Luke's fragile life ended and thought of all the other nameless cycling victims of this car crazy society we live in. Just the week before a poor guy got killed by a driver who was sending an SMS message on her mobile phone while hurtling down the road.
Every time I go out for a ride I am mentally prepared for it to be my last. This ensures that (1) I always enjoy it to the max even if it's hailing and blowing a gale and (2) I'm as careful as possible. I always feel exhilarated at the end of the ride because I've survived intact and hey that's what we all do this for. Riding a bike has made me drive slower at the speed limit and gradually ride faster and I long for the day when the two speeds are in the same decade.
Today in the San Francisco Chronicle, an article appeared detailing a French family's cycle-tour around the world for peace. The article further goes to chronicle their difficulties in obtaining an extension to their tourist visa in the INS office.
Normally I am not one to write letters of protest, but something about this family and their troubles have moved me to write a letter to the INS via their website. For anyone else who also feels like their voice needs to be heard on this topic, you can use the feedback form on the INS website. This is the best method I have found, though I am open to suggestion if others have more knowledge.
Channel seven in Adelaide are showing some form of racing however the biggest disappointment (which was also evident last year) is the number of advertisements interspersed with minimal coverage. I think that this media sponsor has a captured audience and is shoving whatever they like to the tifosi. The total coverage each day is half an hour, however total racing seen would account for less than 10 minutes very disappointed also very parochial to Stuey (I'm also a local, but would like to hear the account of the other internationals).
Bring back SBS into the fold they are the only free-to-air which has some respect for the sport and who tell it like it is see their Tour de France and recently Paris-Roubaix coverage which has been excellent. Channel seven should stick to football coverage, they even use an ex-footballer to anchor the TDU coverage! Blah you're not missing much.
TDU TV #2
I too missed the coverage that SBS did have for the first few years of the race. SBS do a great job of covering the TdF , but as all Cyclingnews readers and fans of cycling know the session doesn't begin or end in July. Are SBS really committed to covering world sport or just world soccer? What a great race for the Australian's I feel proud!
By the way, why am I not seeing more 'iTeamNova' jerseys out on the road? Sign up you slack buggers!
TDU TV #3
Fox Sports gave us 30 minutes of highlights at 11pm, which was at best only ok, especially as there was no repeat of the broadcast at a more civilised time although given Scott Sunderland's choice variation on the English language after his unfortunate accident, this might have been a wise move.
(Did the broadcasters really HAVE to blankettyblank all the blank blankettyblank blank things he blankettyblank said while lying on the blankettyblank blank road? It blank blankettyblank made him look so blankettyblank rude.)
Whether one of the broadcast networks plan on running a highlights package of the tour in a couple of weeks' time (as happened this weekend with the Bay Classic), I know not.
Live in peace
An answer to Eric's letter the reference books rather than from memory:
Six-day races were held in London (I think that Eric Caddy is right about the venue being Earl's Court) in 1951 and 1952 (in May, at the very end of the "winter" season); Australians Reg Arnold and Alfred Strom had been a regular team on the European six-day circuit since the late 1940s (early members of the long-established Gent-based Australian cycling colony); the 1952 London event was one of their six victories together (they were second in London the previous year). Syd Patterson (who later won sixes paired with both Strom and Arnold) also rode in the 1952 race, finishing 7th.
Mystery Aussies #2
I would guess that one of the riders you are trying to remember is Sid Patterson? Unfortunately, he passed away in 1999.
His son Rik raced at the Commonwealth Games in the 80s.
I'm not sure who the other rider was.
I hope this helps you.
Mystery Aussies #3
I had the good fortune to see that six-day race in London in 1954, and the winning duo were Strom and Arnold , of Australia. Sid Patterson also rode that event, though I cannot recall who partnered him, but I know it was not another Aussie. After the race, on the Saturday night, my girlfriend and I [now wife] were walking toward the exit, when the three Aussies, all carrying large bouquets of flowers, passed us in the other direction. Sid Patterson was wearing the fashion of the day black wooly tights, as we passed him he grinned at us, and I swear he was as big as King Kong. I was 18 at the time and felt like a midget as he walked by.
Mystery Aussies #4
I believe they were Strom and Arnold who became the #1 six Day team for several years during the 50's
The trouble is Jacky too has tested positive in his career so is he a cheater too?
Sarah E Potter
Hey Aaron, You obviously do not believe in redemption. That is sad. There are few moments in life sweeter than silencing, let alone destroying, your critics when you are considered a throwaway. You have no soul. To be so rigid in your condemnation is an easy thing. To understand the joy of the prodigal son takes humility, understanding and forgiveness. Love the ride for what it was. Man Vs himself, man Vs everyone else.
Daniel S. McPherson
Can we have people back off Virenque just a bit? He wins Paris Tours in thrilling fashion and we have people saying it's a black mark on the sport. He's not the only guy ever busted for substance use. Can you say Eddy Merckx? Wonder about the Actovegin materials found in USPS's trash a few years ago (before it was declared illegal- by a few months)? Give Virenque a sporting chance here. I couldn't have cared less who it was opening the gap on Jacky Durand at the finish of P-T and then holding off the peloton: I just appreciate a good race when I see it.
Raymond F Martin
The last month's letters